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Space Museum holds partial solar eclipse observation

     The longest annular eclipse this century will occur on Friday (January 15). In Hong Kong, however, only a partial solar eclipse will be visible.

     The Hong Kong Space Museum will organise a "Partial Solar Eclipse Observation" activity that day starting at 3.30pm. Under the guidance of the Space Museum, members of the public can observe this astronomical event safely using the projection method or through telescopes equipped with a light filtering system. The partial eclipse will also be televised live at the foyer of the Space Museum.

     Admission is free for this activity. The public is welcome to join on a first come, first served basis.

     A live webcast of this event will be jointly provided by the Hong Kong Observatory and the Hong Kong Space Museum on the following web page:

     The annular eclipse will be the longest one this millennium (2001–3000). It will last for 11 minutes eight seconds if observed near the Maldives. In China, the sun will appear as a ring for seven to eight minutes. In Hong Kong, only a partial eclipse will be visible.

     Beginning at about 3.33pm, the partial eclipse will reach its maximum at 4.54pm and end around 6pm, when the sun and the moon dip below the horizon in succession.  The eclipse has a magnitude of 0.674, meaning 67.4% of the sun's diameter or 57% of the solar disc will be obscured by the moon at maximum eclipse.  Although not as large as that on July 22, 2009, this eclipse is still fairly spectacular.  Air temperature and ambient luminosity may fall slightly during the eclipse, but this will have little effect on daily activities.

     Details of the partial eclipse are as follows:
              Hong Kong Time   Direction   Elevation
Eclipse begins   3.33pm        Southwest   28 degrees
Maximum eclipse  4.54pm     West-southwest 13 degrees
Sunset            6pm       West-southwest

     Locations with an unobstructed view to the southwest can view the early phase of the eclipse.  To observe the whole event, one needs to be at places where the horizon is visible in the west-southwest.  Examples are Tuen Mun, Tai O and Lamma Island.

     Never observe the Sun with the naked eye or through telescopes without a light filtering system, or permanent eye damage may result. The following are some safe methods to observe the solar eclipse:
1. Project the solar image through a pin hole or telescope onto a piece of white paper or cardboard.  This is by far the safest way to observe the sun;
2. Use solar filters specially made for observing the sun;
3. Through a telescope equipped with a proper light filtering system under the supervision of persons with proper training and expertise. Filtering the sun's rays before they enter the telescope is safer than filtering the sun's rays after they enter the telescope.

     The next solar eclipse visible in Hong Kong will be an annular eclipse on May 21, 2012.

     For further information on the "Partial Solar Eclipse Observation" activity, please visit the museum's website at For enquiries please call 2721 0226.


Ends/Monday, January 11, 2010


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